Word that Marvin Williams could be out for weeks with a lower back injury swept through the Hawks' locker room like a storm before Monday's game against New Orleans at Philips Arena."Man, that's a tough pill to swallow right there," captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said before the Hawks finished off a season sweep of the Hornets with their second straight win. "Every time we get over one hurdle it seems like another one pops up."
Williams sustained the injury late in Saturday's home win over Detroit and was held out the entire fourth quarter.
He is scheduled to see specialists this week, coach Mike Woodson said, and his status will not be updated until after those visits.
"This is a huge blow," Woodson said before Monday's game. "Marvin's been such a big part of what we're doing. So we'll have to regroup and find ways to deal with it until we can get him back out there."
Williams is the Hawks' fourth-leading scorer, averaging 14.0 points, a career-high 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists while starting in all 59 games he's played.
Veteran swingman Mo Evans started in his place against the Hornets. But Woodson said he would tweak his lineup depending on the matchups.
"We've all got to be ready," Evans said. "We're down to the home stretch and we need every guy in uniform to be ready to step up and do his part."
The Hawks have already had to deal with injury issues multiple times this season. Josh Smith missed 12 games earlier in the season and Al Horford missed 12 later. Now comes the prospect of Williams missing as many or more, depending on the word he gets back from the doctors.
"This is the point in time where we have to stay together even more, especially with Marvin out of the lineup" Smith said. "We just have to keep playing hard and playing defense the way we've been these past two games. And as long as we keep getting these home wins, nobody can complain."
HAWKS 89, HORNETS 79: Maybe there is something to this home-court advantage thing the Hawks have been talking about all season.
Two games into a seven-game homestand the Hawks are 2-0 and have finished season sweeps of two playoff-bound opponents.
They popped the Hornets on Monday night, holding the Hornets under 80 points for the second time this season.
The Hawks are 22-7 at home and 36-28 on the season, having won their last three home games, including Saturday's 87-83 season-sweeping victory over Detroit.
Joe Johnson led the Hawks on Monday night with 30 points, shaking out of a mini-slump with a huge game when the Hawks needed it most. It was his best scoring night since a 41-point outburst in a Dec. 27 win over Chicago.
"We knew Joe Johnson is the guy and we weren't able to put the clamps on him," Hornets forward David West said.
The Hornets showed up sporting a season-best seven-game win streak. But after building and then surrendering an early 12-point lead, they were forced to play catch-up for most of the night.
The Hawks erased the early deficit with a huge second quarter. They outscored the Hornets 27-12, doing plenty of damage in transition. They had eight fast-break points and the Hornets had none.
Not even a late charge from All-Star point guard Chris Paul (24 points and 10 assists) and a big night from David West (16 points and 20 rebounds) was enough to get the Hornets back in this one in time.
"We did the job tonight," Johnson said. "And it wasn't just one guy. It was all the way around."